Louise blogs about why she signed up for the scariest physical challenge of her life.
On 16 May, two teams of 24 Mind supporters led by Matt Johnson and Anna Williamson are trekking 50km over 3,000-foot peaks in 24 hours to raise £50K for mental health. I’m going to be on Anna’s team in the Lake District and I can’t wait.
The thought of trekking up mountains through the day and the night, in challenging terrain, whatever the weather decides to do, is frankly terrifying. I’m not keen on the dark; I’m clumsy and highly likely to fall over; I have dodgy knees and a dodgy ankle; I like my bed and my sleep and I hate being cold. When I started training in January my physical fitness was nil. I’m seriously worried about this challenge for so many reasons. Yet I am determined to complete it.
I am going to complete this challenge – come hell or high water – because I’m raising money for Mind. I lost my dear big brother Ian to depression in 2011, after he battled for many years with his mental health. His story ended with him taking his own life. I couldn’t be more passionate about mental health for so many reasons. Obviously my main inspiration is Ian, but, having myself gone through depression and anxiety after Ian’s death, I also now have a personal perspective.
I’m deeply concerned by the lack of understanding for mental health problems. Stigma is rife – even in 2015, there’s still the feeling that people experiencing a mental health problem need to snap out of it, pull themselves together and stop being weak. I often ask myself when… WHEN… will we realise that an illness is an illness, be it of mind or body.
Since I signed up for the trek I’ve done things that have taken me way out of my comfort zone. Like taking part in a live radio show with the Deputy Prime Minister about funding for mental health services. The really amazing thing for me was that I received such incredible support from friends and acquaintances. I’d been terrified of being interviewed live, worried about what people would think if I spoke about what has happened in my family. The fear of stigma is very strong. But after hearing the radio programme the most unexpected people suddenly opened up to me about their own experiences.
For four months now I’ve been juggling two small children (not literally!), job, caring for relatives and training and now D-day is fast approaching. The support of my Mind 3,000s team mates via Facebook has been fantastic. Even before we set off I’ve made good friends with some very special people, and we’ll keep each other going on the trek.
I'm excited and nervous about the trek. Still, if I have battled depression, anxiety and the suicide of my brother, then a few mountains shouldn’t be a problem.
Wish us luck!